Ukraine's Kolesnykov Charged with Attempted Extortion

KIEV, Ukraine -- Donetsk regional council chairman Borys Kolesnykov has been charged with "attempted extortion of the property of another person with a threat of murder," said the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office.

Borys Kolesnykov

The charge carries a sentence of 7 to 12 years' imprisonment with confiscation of property, the prosecutor's office press service told Interfax. Kolesnykov is accused of trying to extort shares in a shopping center.

Kolesnykov was arrested on April 6 after being summoned to the Prosecutor General's Office as a witness in proceedings against officials in eastern Ukraine who are accused of seeking autonomy for their regions, which runs counter to Ukraine's constitution.

The autonomy movement began after Viktor Yushchenko won the last presidential election, defeating former prime minister Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed wide support in the country's eastern regions.